Ouch! Obama loses 41 percent of W.Va. primary vote to federal inmate.

Meet Keith Judd, who's incarcerated in Texas for extortion. He's also a serial presidential candidate, and in West Virginia's Democratic primary Tuesday, he grabbed 41 percent of the vote from President Obama. Republicans are gleeful.

The Beaumont Enterprise courtesy of Keith R. Judd/AP/File
This image shows federal prisoner Keith Judd at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Beaumont, Texas in this March 15, 2008 file photo.

In an embarrassment to President Obama, Federal Inmate No. 11593-051 – otherwise known as Keith Judd – won 10 counties and 41 percent of the vote in West Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary Tuesday.

Mr. Judd is incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas, where he is serving a 210-month sentence for extortion, according to The Charleston Gazette. Judd had paid the $2,500 filing fee and submitted a notarized “certificate of announcement” to appear on the ballot.

He is even qualified to have a delegate at the Democratic National Convention, because he won at least 15 percent of vote. However, no one has stepped forward to fill that role.

But those are just details. The Republicans are having a field day with this slap at the president. Mr. Obama is deeply unpopular in West Virginia and was already certain to lose the small mountainous state in November. But the fact that enough people bothered to turn out in an uncontested primary to register a protest against the incumbent is telling.

“Just how unpopular does someone have to be for this to happen?” says Joe Pounder, research director and deputy communications director at the Republican National Committee, in a statement.

He notes that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia wouldn’t say whom he voted for in the primary. “Apparently, it’s a smarter political calculation to let people believe you may have voted for the guy in federal prison over the sitting president of your own party. Just saying,” Mr. Pounder writes.

West Virginia’s Democratic governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, has also not revealed his vote. Energy is a big issue in his state – America’s second-biggest producer of coal – and the Environmental Protection Agency’s handling of mining-related permits has angered the local industry, writes the Associated Press.

In addition to being a convicted felon, Judd is also a serial presidential candidate. In the 2008 Idaho Democratic primary, he finished third behind Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton with 1.7 percent of the vote, per The Charleston Gazette.

According to the website for the secretary of State of West Virginia, the state’s primaries are closed. Major party members are required to “vote the ballot” of their party. But “all the major parties allow members of minor parties and unaffiliated voters to vote their ballots upon request,” the site says.

Still, the 41 percent who voted for Judd had to have included a lot of registered Democrats. One voter, an electrician named Ronnie Brown from Cross Lanes, W.Va., told the AP that he’s a conservative Democrat who voted “against Obama.”

"I don't like him,” Mr. Brown said. “He didn't carry the state before, and I'm not going to let him carry it again."

And yes, Brown did vote for Judd – or “that guy out of Texas,” as he put it.

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